CMP Review 2023-10-22

CMP Review 2023-10-22

The penultimate chapter of Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves Book I sets before the reader an ominous image. It is of “four cross-roads where the companions divide.” All four are broad roads with many travelers, and each bears a sign that says “no harm.” All of us are tempted at one time or another by every one of the four ways. We are allured. We are enticed. And when we begin to slide, “our only chance,” writes Miss Mason, “is to struggle back by the uphill track of duty.”

She points to human effort. Grasp the inspiring idea. Make the choice of will. Form the good habit. Embrace the duty. Resist the “cross-roads of vice.” You can do it!

It’s all good advice; it’s all wise, helpful, and true. But it’s only half the story. In Charlotte Mason’s poetry she reveals the other side of the scene. We are like sheep and those cross-roads are appealing. The pastures seem so green. Duty, habit, and will are failing. We have started to slip away.

Our only hope is for a shepherd, and according to Miss Mason, our shepherd comes seeking. Read or listen to her poem “The vagrant sheep,” and when you read Ourselves, remember that all of the wisdom and advice it contains assumes the loving presence of an Unseen Hand. Find the poem here.